Letting go can be hard. We are creatures of habit, and a sudden change in our routine can feel awkward, strange and stressful. So we continue on with our busy lives, telling ourselves little white lies to feel better about not letting go, like “I’ve always been this way”, “it could be worse” or “I can’t”. If you spend enough time defending your reasons (giving excuses) you start to believe there really isn’t anything you can do about it.
Most of my life I have been that person. I have always had a hard time letting go. I would hold grudges if someone made me mad. I would hang on to things (clothes, shoes, decorations, etc.) even if I hadn’t used them in years. When I married my husband 7 years ago I had a very hard time letting go of my last name. It was my identity. I was proud of my last name, proud to belong to the most amazing family in the world.
Over the past few years I have noticed a slow shift in my ability to let things go. I’m not sure what has caused the shift (becoming a mother, losing my 2 grandfathers, reading and reflecting more, getting older, watching my mother-in-law battle to get her life back after her stroke), but I can say with confidence I AM SO HAPPY it happened. The more I let go of, the happier I become, and the easier it gets to identify what I need to “purge” out of my life.
I am in the process of taking inventory in my house, and letting go of everything that does not serve a purpose to me or my family. We have so much crap in this house that hasn’t been touched since we moved in over 4 years ago. Why is it still here? Even when my house is “clean”, I know behind every closet, under every bed, and in every cabinet we have stuff we don’t need. I want my house to be a sanctuary. A place where we feel at peace, happy, and fulfilled. A place where everything has a purpose, a story, and a place. It’s hard to sit on the couch at night and truly relax knowing my house is full of crap. Time to let it go.
Material possessions are much easier to let go of. When you are struggling with something internal, it can pop up just when you thought you had it under control. Shortly after my 30th birthday, I decided I needed to let go of anger. I kept the word “PERSPECTIVE” at the forefront of my mind. All of my life, I had been so consumed with the way people, events or things made me feel. “He made me so mad” or “she wouldn’t let me”. Looking back I realize how wrong I was. Most of what happens in life we have no control over, but we ALWAYS have control of our perspective. We always have control of how we react.
Just when I thought I was doing a great job, I was tested and I failed miserably. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Last summer we had a family vacation at Lake Lanier, GA with my in-laws and mother-in-law’s family. We rented a beautiful house right on the lake that slept 25-30 people. It was great to see everyone and let the boys play with their cousins. But the room we slept in didn’t seem to get any air. The first night I tossed and turned, feeling uncomfortable and hot. The second night was the same. I let myself get angry, and I wasn’t much fun to be around. I couldn’t focus on hanging out with everyone because I was tired and annoyed with the lack of AC. My husband asked me to let it go, but I didn’t. The 3rd night we figured out the AC issue, but by that time I had already spent most of the week moping around feeling sorry for myself.
I didn’t realize how much I would regret my negative attitude until a week after we returned home. While we were vacationing my mother-in-law went skiing. She injured her leg when she fell and after a trip to the hospital she found out she tore her hamstring. She took a week off of work to recover and rest. The afternoon of July 13th, 2010 my father-in-law came home and found her unconscious on the living room floor. After over 24 hours of not knowing what had happened, they began to piece it together. After pulling her hamstring she developed a blood clot that went from her leg, through a hole in her heart (which 10% of people have but we didn’t know was there) and to her brain, causing a stroke. You can read her story here. She spent most of the first 2 months in a coma like state. Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of her stroke. After months of intensive rehab, she is now walking, talking and learning how to live in her new body. I am so proud of how far she has come. I am humbled by the strength and faith my in-laws have shown through this past year. It is an honor to be her daughter-in-law.
Of course I still struggle with the fact that my last memory with my mother-in-law before her stroke was of me not letting go of something so stupid. I can’t change the past, but I can (and have) changed my perspective moving forward. There are still times I let negative thoughts enter my mind and I get flustered. But then I take a second, acknowledge those feelings, and LET IT GO. Life is too short, and it’s never a guarantee. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. While I think it is important to think, dream and prepare for tomorrow, I also think it is important to be grounded in the present moment. Every day should serve a purpose. Every day is an opportunity to do meaningful work and make a difference.
If you are not able to embrace happiness today, it’s time to take charge and let go of the things getting in the way. Make a list, cross them off one at a time and enjoy the sensation of finally letting go.
Maribeth, this entry is dedicated to you. I love you more than words can say. You are the world’s best mother-in-law, mother and Grammy. I am so proud of how far you have come this past year and I am so thankful you are in my life. ~Ginny